Romance scammers on the internet


With the rise in popularity of online dating, you can be sure the scammers are getting saavy and the fallout is traumatic.

One way online dating scammers groom their victims is by developing what could be called a “hyper personal” relationship. This is one of the findings of Professor Monica Whitty of the University of Leicester. Her research is part of a larger study focused on fraud where criminal set up fake identities using stolen photographs and pretend to develop a romantic relationship with their victim. At some point they pretend to be in urgent need of money and ask for help. Many victims are persuaded to transfer a large sum of money before they figure out what is happening.

Whitty interviewed 15 victims of this kind of fraud, both men and women. The results showed that there was indeed a basic technique to priming the victim. “Our data suggests that the numbers of British victims of this relatively new crime is much higher than reported incidents show. It also confirms law enforcement suspicions that this is an underreported crime, and thus more serious than first thought. This is a concern not solely because people are losing large sums of money to these criminals, but also because of the psychological impact experienced by victims of this crime. It is our view that the trauma caused by this scam is worse than any other, because of the ‘double hit’ experienced by the victims – loss of money and loss of ‘romantic relationship’.”

She found that people with strong romantic beliefs who idealized romantic partners were most likely to fall prey to online scammers.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Leicester


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